What Is a Business Mentor? How They Can Transform Your Journey

A business mentor is a cross between a mediator, a therapist and a best friend for entrepreneurs. I’ve got one – if you’ve followed my The Diary of an Entrepreneur podcast, you’ll have heard John Morgan’s voice in both episode 21 and episode 22.

John has been my confidante for many years and is a successful entrepreneur in his own right. Working with John pushes me to do better and to tackle my weaknesses; he’s not just there to pat me on the back or focus on my strengths.

In this guide I’ll look at the pros and pros of having a business mentor. As long as you choose the right person, there really aren’t any major downsides to worry about.

What is a business mentor?

A business mentor is someone who does not work for your organisation, but has experience in business in their own right. They’re often further along their career path than you, and will have already encountered many of the challenges that you are facing for the first time.

Why have a business mentor?

We all have people we turn to in life, whether that’s friends and family, paid professionals, or a trusted social media group. When you find a business mentor who’s right for you, you gain an advisor who has specific expertise in the kinds of obstacles you need to overcome to build your brand.

You can let off steam in a safe environment

If you feel like friends and family don’t understand the pressures you’re under, a mentor can help. They’ve been there before, and now they’re here to support you. If that includes occasional venting, your mentor should be fine with it.

They can offer an impartial view

Once your rant is over, your mentor should be able to tell you if you’re overreacting, and give you some practical suggestions on your future strategy. From the big decisions to the small day-to-day stuff, your mentor is a sounding board to provide much-needed objectivity.

They can take the emotion out of decisions

Business is stressful, especially when you put yourself into your brand as an entrepreneur or sole trader. A mentor will help you to make less emotionally fraught decisions, so that you can proceed without the cloud of anxiety blurring your path.

The benefits of having a business mentor

So, why have a business mentor? As mentioned, business mentorship is there as a safety net when you need a second opinion. Your mentor is not there to nod and smile; they’re there to challenge you and to help you deliver your very best.

The benefits of a business mentor are that when necessary, they are NOT your friend, but an independent, objective voice to tell you when you’re failing to see the bigger picture. And, of course, someone to say “well done” when you’ve done well.

What makes a good business mentor?

When looking for a business mentor, what attributes should you prioritise? Here are some of the top characteristics of business mentors. Your ideal mentor won’t necessarily have all of these, but it’s a good checklist when starting your search.

Good experience

Generally speaking, the longer your mentor has been in business, the better advice they will be able to give, especially if they are still (or have very recently been) actively involved in running an organisation.

A good listener

Mentors need to be able to listen to your concerns, so find yourself a good listener, and not just someone who wants to impart their own wisdom whether it’s relevant or not.

Facilitates you to the right decisions

The right decisions are not always the easy choices. Your mentor should push you to make the tough calls and to understand the long game when predicting the business benefits.

The relationship is based on trust from both sides

Both parties need to have trust in one another. You need to trust that your mentor will advise you conscientiously and confidentially, and your mentor needs to know that you will take their guidance on board, even if you don’t always act on it.

Is honest and reliable

This one probably goes without saying. It’s related to trust, but it’s also about your mentor as an individual. If you admire them as a person, that’s always a good start.

Holds you accountable

Here is where the challenge really starts. As an entrepreneur or business owner, the buck stops with you. You need your mentor to hold you accountable – including for your failings – so that you can identify areas where you need to grow for the long-term health of your business.

Constantly questions and sense checks

Accountability is not just during the big decisions. Again, your mentor should help you with the mundane day-to-day stuff too, by continually checking that your strategy makes sense.

Shares experiences

Real-world experience is one of the biggest benefits of having a business mentor, so choose someone who can share their expertise with you, so you don’t have to live through the mistakes they made in the past.

How having a business mentor can change your mindset

A business mentor can help to transform your mindset as you recognise that your failures are opportunities to grow, and your successes are a springboard to even higher achievements.

Most of all, a mentor can keep you on the straight and narrow, as you’re no longer making your big business decisions alone in an office behind closed doors.

Mistakes business owners can make without a mentor

So what’s the flipside of being in business without a mentor? There are a few common mistakes I’ve seen entrepreneurs make…

Getting carried away with their ego

“The buck stops here” is true, but you shouldn’t let that put your ego into god-mode. Business mentorship helps to stop you from buying too much into your own personal ‘brand identity’. It can also help you realise when it’s time to fire yourself and hand over some control to senior-level managers.

Not being prepared to listen to anyone else

Working with a business mentor keeps you open to other people’s opinions, especially people you trust. That can help you to open up more to suggestions from your Managing Director, senior management and all levels in your organisation.

Not sharing things with anyone

Equally as important as listening to others, is feeling heard in your own right. Your business mentor is there to unburden you, even if that’s by listening to your concerns about an issue with no immediate resolution; sometimes just sharing the stress is enough to clear a path.

Closing thoughts

I’m continually glad that I found the right business mentor early in my career. John has helped me build a business that I’m rightfully proud of, and I’m growing it rapidly using my own experiences and John’s insights, as you can see in my video series The Diary of an Entrepreneur.

If you’d like to talk about how a business mentor could help you achieve your ambitions, how to find a business mentor any other issues I’ve raised in this article, please contact me today.